They’re calling it the “Citizens’ Plan” initiative. Like all such initiatives, the name is misleading. Said citizens are an alliance of a billionaire and a few advocates for a limited selection of public interests. Not included are the citizens who are most impacted nor the economic interests of the City’s working populace. Citizen Kane Plan might be a more appropriate name for the way it attempts to manipulate public opinion into believing it is a grassroots plan. [Read more…] about A beach, burb, and billionaire “Citizens’ Plan” for San Diego’s urban neighborhoods
I read an op-ed in the San Diego Union Tribune that made me want to stand on top of a downtown high rise and scream . . . YES!!! The opinion piece was entitled “A higher and better use for downtown,” and was written by Wayne Raffesberger and co-authored by Rob Quigley, Jack Carpenter, Pete Garcia and David Malmuth – individuals who have exceptional knowledge of downtown San Diego’s East Village neighborhood and a promising vision for its future.* I was compelled to write a lengthy comment to the piece and perhaps I should have just stopped there (in any case, I have regurgitated some of it in writing this piece). But this topic has been an issue that has been sticking in my craw for several years. [Read more…] about San Diego’s East Village: substituting an academic and high-wage vision for an entertainment and tourism vision
Thirty years into my passion for urbanism, I’m just finishing my first read, I’m embarrassed to admit, of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities. The book has strongly resonated with me as it has done legions others. I’m amazed at how relevant a book written 55 years ago is about U.S. cities today. Perhaps my lateness in reading this milestone of understanding of how cities work was a missed opportunity or resulted in a knowledge deficit for me. [Read more…] about The unofficial glossary of Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Downtown is for people” wrote legendary urban planner Jane Jacobs in 1958, in response to building-centric redevelopment that was a byproduct of politics and economics seeking to rebuild cities across America. During her lifetime, she advocated for citizens to decide what end results they wanted, pioneering concepts like “social capital,” and advocating for planners to steer the rebuilding machinery to serve the community.
Yet, even today, downtown San Diego is being built as a collection of projects, with an approval process that consistently favors developers. [Read more…] about California lawmakers seek local oversight of downtown planning
There is a building boom across California, but many communities have been historically left behind. Property tax increment has served as a planning and investment tool to provide public benefits such as affordable housing, good jobs and neighborhood amenities. However, with the end of redevelopment, cash-poor cities across California are exploring innovative strategies to fund public benefits. One such strategy is to partner with developers for community benefits in exchange for planning and development rights. [Read more…] about How Communities can Benefit from Private Development in California
With vibrant neighborhoods, gentle terrain, the Big Bay and year round sunshine, Downtown San Diego figures to be on every list of America’s great cycling communities. We have everything… except the bicyclists. Why? It’s not very safe. The street grid favors cars. That’s about to change. [Read more…] about Downtown San Diego by Bike – changes coming
My family will attest, I’m a San Diego Chargers football fan. During football season, not only is the TV tuned to Chargers games, but so are multiple strategically located radios around the yard, lest I miss any action while attending to a honey-do task or breaking up an argument between my children. Then there are the pre and post game shows, and wasted hours reading about the draft, trades, and other team side shows. Lest I forget to mention, I’m also a San Diego County resident – just outside the city’s boundaries.
However, the Chargers are one of several NFL teams, along with the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, considered likely to move to another city unless they receive a new football stadium. [Read more…] about Five reasons losing an NFL football team is good for a city
When asked about what I do for a living by new friends and neighbors, I usually start with “urban designer,” then drift towards “city planner,” and usually end with, “sort of like architecture…” Or, during one those late Sunday evening angst moments while contemplating just what in the heck am I doing on this earth, I like to tell myself that I’m a maker of great places. Then Sunday’s infinite theoretical possibilities and dreams butt up against Monday’s unforgiving reality*, and I’m back to selling traditional neighborhood developments, form-based codes, consecutive-day charrettes, and mixed-use, walkable, urbanism to anyone willing to listen, which I enjoy immensely. [Read more…] about I’m a PlaceMaker. . .
For the last half century, cities have attempted to repair the damage to their urban cores from migration to suburbs and exurbs. Redevelopment has evolved into smart growth, transit oriented development, and complete streets. In the last 15 years or so, the urban renewal efforts have had a receptive audience as people, tired of the car oriented lifestyle of the suburbs, are returning to urban cores and older urban neighborhoods. However, while cities get the big picture, too often in my 25 years as a land use attorney, I have seen the same mistakes repeated. [Read more…] about 6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal.
The City of La Mesa has cut down all the shade trees along its commercial mainstreet. This occurred as construction began on the La Mesa Downtown Streetscape “enhancement” project. Some of these trees were tattered, unhealthy, or buckling the sidewalks. However, the city removed nearly all the trees, problematic or not. Rather than replacing these trees with environmentally and pedestrian friendly shade trees (e.g. native varieties like Western Sycamores, Live Oak, or Black Oak), the replacements tree choice is being guided primarily by maintenance concerns, leaving a limited selection of relatively small non-native and non-shade trees. Additionally, the Streetscape Masterplan shows an abundance of the grossly overused fan palm, sparing only La Mesa Boulevard between Acacia and 4th, and a few other blocks. [Read more…] about Who Hijacked La Mesa’s Trees?